I recently read a very interesting article from the Active Times about the adverse health effects of sitting for prolonged periods. In fact I’ve read in different sources that our sedentary lifestyle is almost as bad as smoking on our health! The problem is that most of us are sitting an average of 12.3 hours per day. I found that alarming, so I tracked my own sitting time for a few days and boy was I surprised!
How many hours would you guess you spend sitting? Well, it turns out that you are sitting without standing/getting up for more than an hour at a time, you are putting yourself at risk. The good news is that this is an easy fix. All you have to do is set a timer and stand up every 50 minutes. Walking around is recommended, but if that is not possible, then the simple act of standing does wonders.
I’m not a doctor, or a scientist, or a researcher, and the information I’m offering here is meant to get you thinking and researching the best course of action for you. That said, I was surprised to learn that prolonged sitting has the following effects:
- Increased anxiety and depression– sitting reduces circulation which impacts overall well being.
- Weak muscles
- Pinched nerves in shoulders and back, and hip problems
- There are links to diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis and it is well documented that poor posture can lead to chronic pain
- Stored fat, due to lack of movement, could lead to heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, pancreatitis and chronic fatigue
- Of particular concern is the possibility of deep vein thrombosis and an increase in blood clots
- And even if you exercise on a regular basis, prolonged sitting can negate the benefits of exercise.
In case you haven’t made the leap, here’s to stating the obvious: you and your employee’s health will suffer and so will their productivity if you sit without moving for 4 or more hours per day. And of course, there is a direct correlation between health challenges and decreased productivity.
Here is some good insight and advice from one of our members, Corporate Fitness Works: Our mantra is “move everybody!” We encourage our clients to have their employees do routine stretch breaks throughout the work day. Getting up and moving for a few minutes every hour will improve metabolism, posture, muscle tone and mental alertness. Challenge yourself and your employees to move!”
The good news, as I mentioned earlier, is that there is an easy fix. Move. Set an alarm and move every 50 minutes. Studies show that you will be more productive because the very act of moving around opens your mind to new ideas.
As a business owner/leader, what are you doing to encourage your employees to sit less? Need some ideas?
- Standing desks or computer stands that easily go up and down. Offices that have installed these tools have reported that the benefits far outweigh the costs.
- Consider “walk and talk” meetings
- Ban individual office printers– force people to get up to retrieve printed documents in another room/location
- Have a “no eating at your desk” policy
- Set up a company wide fitness challenge
- Lead by example– set your watch to beep every 50 minutes. Get up and walk around for 5 -10 minutes
- Buy new office chairs for better support and posture.
- Make sure that computers and desks are at optimal height so people aren’t slouching
- Can’t afford a gym or workout room? How about a space with some stretch bands and free weights?
- Encourage people to take regular breaks.
Now it’s your turn: How often do you stand and walk around? How long are you sitting per day?